Without self-knowledge, experience breeds illusion; with self-knowledge, experience, which is the response to challenge does not leave a cumulative residue as memory . Self-knowledge is the discovery from moment to moment of the ways of the self, its intentions and pursuit, its thoughts and appetites. There can never be "your experience" and "my experience"; the very term "my experience" indicates ignorance and the acceptance of illusion.
Creativeness Through Self-Knowledge
. . . There is no method for self-knowledge. Seeking a method invariably implies the desire to attain some result - and that is what we all want. We follow authority- if not that of a person then of a system, of an ideology - because we want a result that will be satisfactory, which will give us security. We really do not want to understand ourselves, our impulses, and reactions, the whole process of our thinking, the conscious as well as the unconscious; we would rather pursue a system that assures us of a result. But the pursuit of a system is invariably the outcome of our desire for security, for certainty, and the result is obviously not the understanding of oneself. When we follow a method, we must have authorities- the teacher, the guru, the savior, the Master - who will guarantee us what we desire; and surely that is not the way of self-knowledge.
Authority prevents the understanding of oneself, does it not? Under the shelter of an authority, a guru, you may have temporarily a sense of security, a sense of well-being, but that is not the understanding of the total process of oneself. Authority in its very nature prevents the full awareness of oneself and therefore ultimately destroys freedom; in freedom alone can there be creativeness. There can be creativeness only through self-knowledge.
Quiet Mind, Simple Mind
When we are aware of ourselves, is not the whole movement of living in a way of uncovering the "me", the ego, the self? The self is a very complex process that can be uncovered only in relationship, in our daily activities, in the way we talk, the way we judge, calculate, the way we condemn others and ourselves. All that reveals the conditioned state of our own thinking, and is it not important to be aware of this whole process? It is only though awareness of what is true from moment to moment that there is discovery of the timeless, the eternal. Without self-knowledge, the eternal becomes a mere word, a symbol, a speculation, a dogma, a belief, an illusion to which the mind can escape. But if one beings to understand the "me" in all its various activities from day to day, then in that very understanding, without any effort, the nameless, the timeless comes into being. But the timeless is not a reward for self-knowledge. That which is eternal cannot be sought after; the mind is quiet, and the mind can be quiet only when it is simple, when it is no longer storing up, condemning, judging, weighing. It is only the simple mind that can understand the real, not the mind that is full of words, knowledge, information. The mind that analyzes, calculates, is not a simple mind.
Without knowing yourself, do what you will, there cannot possibly be the state of meditation. I mean by "self-knowing," knowing every thought, every mood, every word, every feeling; knowing the activity of your mind- not knowing the supreme self, the big self; there is no such thing; the higher self, the atma, is still within the field of thought.
Thought is the result of your conditioning, thought is the response of your memory- ancestral or immediate. And merely to try to meditate without first establishing deeply, irrevocably, that virtue which comes about through self-knowing is utterly deceptive and absolutely useless.
Please, it is very important for those who are serious to understand this. Because if you cannot do that, your meditation and actual living are divorced, are apart- so wide apart that though you may meditate, taking postures indefinitely, for the rest of your life, you will not see beyond your nose; any posture you take, anything that you do, will have no meaning whatsoever.
… It is important to understand what this self-knowing is, just to be aware, without any choice, of the "me" which has its source in a bundle of memories- just to be conscious of it without interpretation, merely to observe the movement of the mind. But that observation is prevented when you are merely accumulating through observation- what to do, what not to do, what to achieve; if you do that, you put an end to the living process of the movement of the mind as the self. That is, I have to observe and see the fact, the actual, the what is. If I approach it with an idea, with an opinion- such as" I must not," or "I must," which are the responses of memory- then movement of what is hindered, is blocked; and therefore, there is no learning.
Can you not just listen to this as the soil receives the seed and see if the mind is capable of being free, empty? It can be empty only by understanding all its own projections, its own activities, not off and on, but from day to day, from moment to moment. Then you will find the answer, then you will see that the change comes without your asking, that the state of creative emptiness is not a thing to be cultivated- it is there, it comes darkly, without any invitation, and only in that state is there a possibility of renewal, newness, revolution.
Right thinking comes with self-knowledge. Without understanding yourself, you have no basis for thought; without self-knowledge what you think is not true.
You and the world are not two different entities with separate problems; you and the world are one. Your problem is the world's problem. You may be the result of certain tendencies, of environmental influences, but you are not different fundamentally from another. Inwardly we are very much alike; we are all driven by greed, ill will, fear, ambition, and so on. Our beliefs, hopes, aspirations have a common basis. We are one; we are one humanity, though the artificial frontiers of economics and politics and prejudice divide us. If you kill another, you are destroying yourself. You are the center of the whole, and without understanding yourself you cannot understand reality.
We have an intellectual knowledge of this unity but we keep knowledge and feeling in different compartments and hence we never experience the extraordinary unity of man.
Relationship Is A Mirror
Self-knowledge is not according to any formula. You may go to a psychologist or a psychoanalyst to find out about yourself, but that is not self-knowledge. Self-knowledge comes into being when we are aware of ourselves in a relationship, which shows what we are from moment to moment. Relationship is a mirror in which to see ourselves as we actually are. But most of us are incapable of looking at ourselves as we are in relationship, because we immediately begin to condemn or justify what we see. We judge, we evaluate, we compare, we deny or accept, but we never observe actually what is, and for most people this seems to be the most difficult thing to do; yet this alone is the beginning of self-knowledge. If one is able to see oneself as one is in this extraordinary mirror of relationship, which does not distort, if one can just look into this mirror full of attention and see actually what is, be aware of it without condemnation, without judgment, without evaluation- and one does this when there is earnest interest- then one will find that the mind is capable of freeing itself from all conditioning; and it is only then that the mind is free to discover that which lies beyond the field of thought.
After all, however learned or however petty the mind may be, it is consciously or unconsciously limited, conditioned, and any extension of this conditioning is still within the field of thought. So freedom is something entirely different.